Morning Cents: June 19, 2020

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June 19, 2020 – Trump’s battle with social media, the airline industry’s quest to return to the skies and Apple triples down on its anti-competition mentality.

Today’s newsletter is 1,164 words, a 6-minute read. Let’s get to it:

Facebook Removes Trump Campaign Ads for Violating Policy on Use of Hate Symbol

Facebook announced it removed posts and ads for President Trump’s re-election campaign because “they violated the social-media giant’s policy against ‘organized hate,’” according to The Wall Street Journal. A spokesperson from the company said the Trump campaign violated Facebook’s standards by including a large, red downward-pointing triangle – a symbol the Nazis used to designated political prisoners in concentration camps – without giving context, condemning or discussing the emblem. A Trump campaign spokesperson said the symbol was used by Antifa, a loosely organized activist movement that the White House has blamed for unrest, which is why they included it.

Why It Matters

There’s a lot to unpack here. First, we’re all still figuring out how the internet, social media, in particular, should be policed. It’s Wild West out there. And President Trump has proven to be a catalyst for these debates quite often. Trump’s latest clash with a tech company comes a day after the Justice Department proposed legislation to sharply reduce the longstanding legal protections afforded to internet companies through Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996.

Facebook, Twitter, Google and other platforms are also under pressure to be more proactive in how they clean up and label hate speech or misleading content on their websites. Twitter made a bold statement Thursday after marking one of Trump’s tweets featuring a doctored video as “manipulated media.” This year, Facebook removed a series of Trump Campaign ads that referred to census data that the company claimed violated its policies against disinformation.

It’s all part of the growing battle of free expression, and how this plays out in the U.S. could influence policies around the world. On Thursday, France delivered a win for free-expression supporters, striking down “the core of the country’s new hate speech law before it could go into effect.”

Numbers to Consider

  • $500 – The price of each of the 30 versions of the most recent Trump campaign ads that were taken down, according to Facebook’s ad library.
  • 20,000 – The cap on impressions each ad had received.


Inside the Aviation Industry’s Toughest Battle Yet: Getting Back in the Skies

The global aviation industry is finally getting ready to reopen. But with varying government restrictions still in place around the world, it’s murky. A look inside London’s Heathrow Airport, the seventh busiest airport in the world in 2019, will dictate how quickly the industry will respond.

Why It Matters

This week, the European Union cleared its citizens to travel throughout its member countries, and Heathrow has become the preeminent test case to monitor. “[Heathrow] is now at the center of a divide between industry executives and government and public-health officials over how and how quickly to resume significant international air travel,” The Wall Street Journal writes “The U.K., for instance, has said travelers coming into the country will be subject to a strict two-week quarantine once they land. Airlines and Heathrow have fought back, but so far, the government isn’t softening its stance.”

And even with the regulatory obstacles, the airline industry’s future depends on the willingness of fliers to return to the skies. It hasn’t been granted an opportunity to rebound the way a sector like retail has. United Airlines expects its June revenue to drop by 90 percent year over year. For now, Heathrow will try a lot of new things in hopes of perfecting the right process to ensure safety with travel.

Numbers to Consider

  • $3.77 Billion – Heathrow’s profits in a typical year, coming from fees on passenger tickets.
  • 228,000 – The number of passengers passing through Heathrow in May, down 97 percent from a year ago.


Apple rejects Facebook’s Gaming platform from the iOS App Store

You’d think tech companies would stick together at a time like this. But Apple is now tripling down on its anti-competition mentality after rejecting the Facebook Gaming App on the iOS App Store. Facebook was not surprised by the move – this is reportedly the fifth rejection. It’s been trying to launch the product since February.

Why It Matters

Apple claims that the App Store rules state third-party apps aren’t allowed to distribute games as a separate platform. The comprehensive offering from Facebook, which includes a dedicated social network, the ability to live stream gameplay and a library of its own games inside the app, could be construed as a competitive threat to the Apple Arcade. A precedent established by Facebook here could set the table for Apple to lose a lot of money. This also comes on the heels of Basecamp speaking out this week against the massive cut Apple takes on App Store purchases, which Spotify also criticized in the past.

Numbers to Consider

  • 30 Percent – The cut Apple takes from App Store purchases.
  • $50 Billion – The estimated gross sales of the App Store in 2019, according to CNBC.com.
  • 64 – With those sales, the App Store’s hypothetical rank in the Fortune 500 if it was its own company.

Full Story: (NY TIMES)

Worth Your Time

Hope is a Dangerous Thing: For a moment, it looked as if Major League Baseball had finally reached the mountaintop. But that was short-lived — league and its players’ association went back to arduously negotiating the same key points over and over again. Though even with distrust in the air, progress has been made, and it could be a step toward a season. (LINK – WALL STREET JOURNAL)

DACA’s Survival: President Trump’s mission to undo DACA came to an end Thursday after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to keep it in place. More than 600,000 receive relief from the Obama-era law, which provides legal protections and work permits to unauthorized immigrants. Ultimately, SCOTUS stated the Trump administration failed to offer adequate reasons to overturn the law. (LINK – WALL STREET JOURNAL)

No Foreign Interference: Twitter and Facebook said they haven’t seen any evidence that foreign governments had been involved in sharing or amplifying content related to the wave of Black Lives Matters protests. This just adds another interesting wrinkle to the already raging debate on how to police social media and internet companies. (LINK – WALL STREET JOURNAL)

Price Wars: To address the lackluster sales of 5G phones in the U.S., Samsung has released a new, cost-effective model retailing at about half the price of the Galaxy S line. Consumers aren’t exactly incentivized to switch over to 5G – there are limited device options, and coverage is still geared to the past generation. Samsung bet on 5G early on, and if the investment is going to become worthwhile, things have to start moving. (LINK – WALL STREET JOURNAL)

A Couple Cents Content

Watch Justin Oh talk dividend stocks and why he doesn’t like them (YOUTUBE)

Read why Barstool Sports’ Dave Portnoy shouldn’t be the go-to source for stock trading advice (POST) and a Q&A with former Tennessee Titan and impact fund investor Derrick Morgan (POST)


Look out for our end-of-week roundup later today!

— Justin Birnbaum

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